[OPE-L:904] Re: Positive responses

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 15:54:04 -0800

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Andrew here, replying to Alan's post on price-value equivalence (i.e., the
issues Gil has raised).

In general, I liked the post very much, and think it helps clarify a number of
things. A few minor differences, however:

(1) We shouldn't read Sweezy as having suggested that Marx had assumed equal
organic compostions of capital in Vol. I. In a letter to Baumol, which the
latter quotes in his JEL reply to Samuelson on Marx's Ch. 9 transformation,
Sweezy explicitly repudiates this. Sweezy said that he meant Marx's text
can be understood by means of this assumption. I think that's a wee bit
wacko, but it is still different.

(2) Alan refers to a "Marxian derivation of value and price" that's really
cool. He means what Gil and I call the "temporal single-system interpreta-
tion" (shared in most respects by Alan, me, Ted McGlone, Mino, Eduardo
Maldonado-Filho, Werner de Haan, perhaps John Ernst (?), Paolo Giussani, and
evidently Manuel Perez--who wrote a paper Alan has mentioned but I haven't
seen). My only quibbles with his discussion of the TSS interpretation is that
Alan says it can replicate Marx's "principal qualitative conclusions" and
that it conforms "almost word-for-word" to Marx's texts. I know of no
conclusions, principal or otherwise, qualitative or quantitative, with which
the TSS interpretation is inconsistent. Nor do I know of any case in which
it deviates from the texts, as the qualifier "almost" suggests. I might be
wrong, and if so, it would help to be shown so in order to re-think things.
But if I'm right, then the qualifiers can mislead people into thinking
the discussion is about the relative merits of different interpretatons, all
of which are partial and partly divergent from Marx, whereas I think the
discussion is about an interpretation that both conforms to what he wrote
and replicates his theoretical results vs. those that fail to do so in one
respect or other, and thus diverge theoretically from his work.

(3) I do not think Marx's argument that value cannot arise in exchange is
tautological. That is because this Vol. 1, Ch. 5 demonstration relies on
the Ch. 1 conclusion that commodities do have values, are themselves values,
before entering into exchange. If Marx is wrong in Ch. 1, then the Ch. 5
demonstration is false.

On the other hand, I think Alan has helped clarify a lot how, if Marx's Ch. 1
argument is right, then the Ch. 5 conclusion follows as the night the day,
without having to presume exchange at values.

I suspect that the ground of the debate, then, is whether commodities have
values before entering exchange or whether value arises in exchange. BTW,
Marx restates this conclusion (values are determined and expressed as
definite money prices, before entering circulation) on p. 260 (Vol. I,
Vintage/Penguin) right before showing that value cannot arise in exchange.
So it seems fairly clear that he understood it as the ground of his
demonstration. It is also interesting that he says in Ch. 3, that the
opposite view, which he calls "absurd," is what underlies the quantity
theory of money (though he doesn't use that term, or Currency School).

Andrew Kliman